Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This morning's run and yesterday's sunrise

I'd better be careful what I wish for! In yesterday's blog I mentioned that it should be down to the high 20s before I transition to long sleeves and leggings. I got my wish! The wind chill made it 27-29 degrees out this morning. I don't know why I have to keep experimenting with my clothing every winter. You'd think I would have it all figured out from the last few years! I went out in light leggings, a thin long-sleeved tech shirt, a hat and gloves. I did pull up the sleeves of my shirt a few times when the wind died down, but had to keep pulling them back down again when it picked back up so I was happy with my decision to go long. However, I forgot that my tummy gets very cold because I don't tuck in my shirt. So, next time I need to take Emmy's advise and go with layers. A very thin tech tank top tucked in underneath my shirt would have been perfect. I was very happy with my leggings and hat. My gloves did feel a little too warm so I may go with a thinner pair next time. I ran a nice slow and comfortable 6.25 miles this morning. My legs feel good and strong, but I still have the pain on the inside of my knee by my knee cap, which got much worse in the last mile and a half. I'm not sure what it is, but at this point I don't think it's a bruise anymore. I'll spin tonight and not run again until Saturday to give it a little time to heal.

I forgot to mention the sunrise on yesterday's run. In the last half mile stretch heading home I got to see a beautiful sunrise which turned the sky a kind of orange color. It was beautiful. One of the things I love about running in the fall and winter is starting out in the dark and then watching the sun slowly rise.

Volleyball recap:
Monday in Westport we won 2-1
Tuesday in Norwalk we won 3-0

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow Flakes

I went out for a run this morning and was happy to run amongst a few snow flakes. I'm not usually one for wanting the cold and the snow to come too early in the season, but a few flakes was actually quite nice. Generally in the cold weather I wear shorts or a running skirt and a short-sleeved shirt until it gets down to about the high 20s. However, with it being the first cold run of the season I was a feeling a little wimpy even with it only being about 35 degrees. I went out in a pair of light leggings and a very light long-sleeved tech shirt. Sure enough, within a few minutes I was wishing for short sleeves and my skirt. It was easy enough to pull up my sleeves and the leggings really didn't bother me too much so it wasn't a big inconvenience. I was happy to have my light gloves on for most of the run. My run was only 4.5 miles, but I ran it at a pretty fast pace and I felt really good. My sinus congestion is clearing too up so it was much easier to breath.

My mileage since the marathon:
The week after the New York marathon I went to spin class on Wednesday evening, ran 2.5 miles on Friday and 5 miles in a race on Sunday. My total mileage for the week was a whopping 7.5 miles. Last week I went to spin class on Wednesday and again waited until Friday to run. I ran 5 miles on Friday and 6 miles on Saturday for a total of 11 miles for the week! I also picked up another spin class on Sunday morning. I'm hoping to get in at least 3 runs this week so going for a run this morning was a great start. I also play volleyball on Monday nights in Westport and starting this evening I will be playing Tuesday evenings in Norwalk. I have been in both leagues for many years now. I felt good about being able to give my legs a little break from running and still keep active.

Friends running in Philly this weekend:
The Sunday spin instructor at my gym, Kate, will be running in her first marathon in Philly this weekend. She's in awesome shape so she should do well. I also have another friend, Jodi, who will be running the marathon. I met Jodi at her first marathon in Hartford a few years ago when I was running the relay. I came back to run her in the last few miles of that marathon and as chance would have it I ended up seeing her again when she ran her first ultra at Lake Waramaug this past April. I was volunteering at that ultra and recognized her as she ran by the first time. We chatted and caught up with each other the next few times she came around to our water station. We have since swapped e-mail addresses and keep in touch pretty regularly. I'm hoping that she also has a great time in Philly. Kate and Jodi will be in my thoughts on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Updated photos and Race Report from Great North Run

Please see my updated posting from my October trip to England to see new photos and a brief race report.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MADD Dash at Edgewood Park in New Haven - November 9th 2008

Let me start with a recap of my week since I ran the New York marathon the previous Sunday.

I was very happy to wake up on Monday and Tuesday after the marathon with no major aches or pains. I had some very slight muscle tightness around my knees and my lower quads, but that was about it. On Wednesday evening I went to my usual spin class at the gym. My teacher, Kellie, announced my marathon experience to the class and everyone gave me a round of applause and congratulations! Later in the class Kellie asked me if I'd be up for leading the class in a cycling sprint! So much for taking it easy on my first workout after the marathon. I was very happy that my legs felt really good and strong in class. However, I was struggling to breathe and was a little dizzy due to having some congestion and having taken some medication for it.

I went out for my first run on Friday morning. I only ran for 2.5 miles and was a little disappointed that my legs felt tired. I had been under the illusion that they were back to 100%. Silly me....I should know better.

I had a tough decision to make on Sunday. I could go to the MADD Dash in New Haven or the Beachfront Bushwhack in Greenwich. I knew that many of my friends would be in Greenwich and that it was closer to home, but I have enjoyed running the Edgewood Park race so much in the past and I didn't think that an obstacle course type race was what I needed at this point. I was also looking forward to seeing Brian Fidler in New Haven so that I could tell him all about New York.

I think I made the right decision. Once I'd picked up my bib for the race I went looking for Brian. He gave me a big hug and congratulated me on a great race. He told me how proud he was of me and we discussed some of the wonderful things about running NY. Torpedo and Donna Crammond joined in the conversation about the New York marathon and congratulated me on my race. Brian introduced me to another one of his friend's, Dawn Clark, who ran a marathon in Manchester, NH the previous weekend. She too had run a great race and posted a significant marathon PR for herself. I then saw Bruce Goulart, who was one of the few familiar faces I saw in New York. He had come running up to me in the marathon and chatted with me for a few minutes before he went on his way.

Brian and Kate

My mind set for this race was to take it easy and just go with the flow. I figured that my legs may still need a little more time to come back strong and I also now had a sinus infection to contend with. I had my water bottle with me since the infection and the medication was making my throat feel dry. I started out the first mile at a 8:09 pace and the second mile at an 8:01 pace and although I wasn't breathing as well as I would like my legs felt really good. I would keep passing runners and then look up ahead to the next runner and unintentionally pick up the pace a little until I passed them. I finished mile 3 in 7:56! I was now having to keep clearing my throat, was struggling to take deep breaths and was feeling a little light headed. However, I still kept going along with the speed that my legs wanted to go. I ran the 4th mile in a 7:49 pace and was still catching people. Towards the end of the 4th mile we had turned into Edgewood park and the rest of the race would be run through the park. There were many leaves on the ground so I was trying to be careful not to fall. With only one mile to go I really wanted to get a new PR, but I was slowing down. However, I saw someone ahead of me and again picked up the pace to pass them. I really didn't feel good, but I knew that I was almost done and if I ran a little faster I'd at least be able to get it over with quicker. I finished the last mile in 7:33 and the race in 39:27. This was a PR for me with my prior best being 40:15. I was very happy to find out later that I'd won a trophy for finishing 2nd in my division.

When I finished the race I was congratulated by Brian and Torpedo. Torpedo says that I need to have a saying "Another Week....Another PR..!!!! I wish it was that easy....

Brian and his Dad

Bruce and his friends

Dawn and her friends. Dawn is the one wearing the pink baseball cap and a 26.2 shirt! ;o)

Dawn, her friends and Brian and his Dad.

Marty announcing the winners

Me with my trophy for 2nd place in my division

The race shirt and my trophy

I am hoping to be able to run New York again next year, but I'm pretty sure that I won't get in via lottery so I have to come up with some other options. Emmy had mentioned that I could try to qualify by posting a half marathon time of 1:44, which is an 8 minute pace. However, my best time, which was a PR by 5 minutes last October was 1:47. I'm not sure that I will be able to take off 3 minutes, but with my new 5 miler PR I'm getting a little closer to this goal. Previously, I was able to run faster than than 8 minute pace in 5K races and 4 milers so now I've added a 5 miler to that. I guess my next goal is to see if I can run a 10K at a sub 8 minute pace. I think that I've got my work cutout for me if I'm going to be able to do this in a half.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2008 New York City Marathon Race Report

I must say that this is going to be a tough one to write with any significant details about the City. For me, the race was one big whirlwind of excitement. I'm not very knowledgeable about the five boroughs of NY and didn't really get to look around at the sites of the city, but instead was just amazed by the huge mass of runners and the millions of people cheering for us along the way.

I woke up shortly after 5 am and ate a little cereal for breakfast and then put on my race clothes. I opted to put the lambs wool and tape on my feet in the hotel because I figured it might be a little too cold to be taking my socks off once I got to Staten Island. I had a little walking to do to get to the bus so I could also make sure that I had taped them well. At about 5:45 am I headed to Hilton to catch the 6:30 am ING bus. The guy next to me on the bus, Dave, told me that with the Verrazano bridge being closed everyone else had to go through NJ to get to Staten Island, but that the ING bus got a special police escort and would take us directly over the bridge. Sweet! I think we arrived at the start area shortly after 7:30.

My first reaction upon getting off the bus was how warm it was. However, this didn't last more than about 5 minutes before the wind whipped up and it got very cold. I made my way into the 'athletes village' and found the Orange waiting area and the ING tent. I tried to co-ordinate with Frank and Emmy to chat and take pictures, but this didn't work out since their bus came in late and they were cutting it close to getting their bags checked in for the Wave 1 start. I wandered around a little, used the facilities and found out where the baggage buses were located for my start. I went back to the ING tent, ate part of a milky way and granola bar, put a little extra body glide on my feet and then went to check in my bag at UPS truck. The baggage deadline for my start was 9:30 and it was almost 9:15 at this point. Before you knew it it was time to go to the corrals to watch the 2nd wave start and to get in there for wave 3. I disposed of my sweat pants and sweat shirt and was happy that the wind had died down a little. I later heard stories about the strong winds that effected the elite runners and others that were in earlier waves, but I didn't notice the wind when I was running. The temperature was ideal for me the entire race.

My start time was at 10:20 and I was located towards the front of my group. We had to walk a little way to get to the start which would allow the group to slowly get into a jog and then be running by the time we hit the start mats. I was immediately chocked-up by the sight of all the runners heading up the bridge to the sound of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York. I could instantly feel the energy and the excitement from all the runners around me. All these months of waiting and anticipation and I was finally on my way. The pace was a little slow moving up the bridge, but I took Frank's advise and went with the flow instead of wasting energy trying to get around people. There was also some gaps to get through without too much effort so I did my best to pass some of the slower runners in front of me. I ran that first mile in 9:42, which is a nice easy pace to get warmed up.

After crossing the bridge is when the whole thing becomes totally overwhelming with all the support from the spectators. We hit section after section of yelling and screaming and bands playing. I don't know if I ever took much time to look up and around at the buildings since the mass of runners and spectators seemed to drown all that out. I continued to run with a huge smile on my face and at times a tear in my eye from the sheer amazement of it all. I ran the next 7 miles with at the following pace: 8:40, 9:07, 8:58, 9:01, 8:53, 8:52, and 9:14. Our Orange start group continued running on the left hand side of the road with other groups on the right until we came to the 8 mile mark. At that point we veered off to the left around a corner and then came out to join in with everyone else. I felt a kind of thrill to have us all come together, but at the same time this meant more crowding at the water stations and in general. I was very happy to be running pretty fast and to have no aches or pains to this point. I had a fear that I might be starting out too fast, but then dismissed that since it was better to go faster now before my hip and/or knee started to hurt. My pace continued to be pretty consistent throughout Brooklyn with me posting the following: 9:13, 9:05, 9:33, 9:20 and 9:29. I hit the half way mark at 2:00:09! I couldn't believe it! My best time in a marathon was 4:21 and I now had about 20 minutes in the bank for a second half, which I knew would be a little more difficult with the hills, fatigue and possible injury issues.

We crossed the Pulaski bridge into Queens and things continued to be a whirlwind for me. I kept thinking about how great it was to be running in the streets of New York with all these people cheering for us. I yelled enthusiastically every time we passed a band playing to let them now that they were appreciated. My legs were still feeling really good, with no aches and pains at all. I had hit a milestone with the halfway point and was now thinking about the next two significant parts of the course. I was excited and nervous about the uphill section on the 57th Street / Queensboro bridge and I was dying to get to the mile 17 Poland Spring hydration station to see my boyfriend, Tom, and his family. I ended up having no reason to fear the bridge at all - I even found that the runners ahead of me were going much too slow for my liking so I did a little bobbing and weaving to get around them. I think at this point I had the extra bounce in my step knowing that I'd be seeing Tom really soon. I came across my friend, Dawn, on the bridge and said hi to her and then continued on with my mission to get to mile 17 quickly. I wasn't sure how fast I was running over the bridge at the time because my Garmin watch had temporarily lost it's signal. I was then totally taken back by the huge crowds of spectators who welcomed us off the bridge. It had gone from the quiet of all the runners pounding lightly on the bridge to mobs of people yelling and cheering for us as we exited onto the street. Wow!!! Miles 14 thru 17 were 9:37, 9:35, 9:31, and 8:53. I finally came to the water station where I immediately saw Tom's dad and gave him a hug and a kiss. I then gave Tom and hug and kiss, gave him my ipod and took a fresh water bottle and Gu from him. I didn't see the rest of the family and was not thinking straight at this point. My times had been really fast and I didn't want to cramp up by stopping, but I really wanted to see Tom's mom, son and brother, Shawn. If I had seen them I would have stayed a few moments, but didn't so I just took off and continued running. My brother, Pete, and his wife, Sue, were cheering for me shortly after that on the other side of the road, but I didn't see or hear them either.

After seeing Tom and his dad there was a slight let down of knowing that I had quite a way to go before I would see family in the park and be close to reaching my goal of crossing the finish line. I left like my legs were getting a little tired and I was losing a little of my energy. However, I took a Gu gel and continued on with a hopes of seeing some friends from the Westport joggers club at mile 20 by the Willis Ave bridge. Again, I did not see them, but I was still enjoying the crowds. Upon crossing the bridge it was really cool to hear all the spectators yelling "Welcome to the Bronx".

The water stations were getting a little frustrating with people stopping right in the middle of them and having so many cups on the ground, but other than that I was still having a great time. For miles 18 thru 22 I ran 9:16, 9:29, 9:59, 9:53, and 9:51. Although I was slowing down I still did not have a mile that was as slow as my prior best average pace so I felt really good.

Being a spectator at the marathon for the past 4 or so years, I was pretty familiar with the big hill around mile 23 before you head into Central Park. I was dreading this hill and at this point my legs were tired, my right hip had now started to hurt and I had some twinges in my quads that felt like they might cramp up. Luckily the cramping never came about. Mile 23 ended up not being what I expected....which is good and bad. The good thing is that I thought the hill would be much steeper so I was very happy to find out that it wasn't that bad. I was very tempted to walk a little on this hill, but decided that I'd come this far with no walk breaks and that I should try to tough it out and keep running. The bad thing was that I thought the hill ended right around the 23 mile mark and then we would head into the park, but the park entrance was closer to the 24 mile mark. I spent most of this time muttering to myself "Where's the park?". Once I saw the entrance to the park I was elated. I knew that I was going to pull off a significant PR and that my family would be there cheering for me. I was warned about the rolling hills in the park, but thought that my emotions would get me through those without any troubles. I think at this point I was running with a huge grin on my face and a slight tear in my eye again. Pete and Sue were around mile 25 and I got to see them and grab their hands for a moment as I ran past. I did not see my parents and their friends who were visiting from England, but they told me afterwards that they could see the joy on my face as I ran by them close to the 26 mile mark. Throughout the few miles in the park I barely noticed the uphills, but did enjoy all the little downhill sections. The last little climb to the finish was tough on my tired legs, but I was overjoyed to see the finish line. My last splits were: 9:45, 10:17, 9:31, 9:10 and 1:54. I crossed the line in 4:05:48, which was 15 minutes faster than my previous best!

After crossing the line I was happy to know that my group had the shortest walk out of the park being that my bib number was so high. The walk was pretty slow, but I was happy to keep moving. I got to exit the park at 77th street and then I walked down to 65th street to meet up with Tom, James and my family. I had a big grin on my face when I approached them and they all gave me big hugs. We chatted for a while and then Tom, James and I headed back through the park to make our way down to pick up bags at the hotel on 45th street and then to Grand Central on 42nd street. On the way through the park a guy asked if he could take my photo as one of many that he was taking for his portfolio. I believe that all the walking after the race was good for me since I didn't feel much muscle tightness or pain the following two days.

This experience is one that I will never forget, although I'd like to look at more of the sights of the City next time around! ;o) I had the time of my life and still have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I knew that running New York would be a great experience, but I never expected it to be that overwhelming. Back in 1997 when my brother, Pete, ran the New York City marathon as his first marathon. We came to the city to watch him run and I remember being so taken back by people running a full 26.2 miles and being so proud of Pete for his accomplishment. He ran it on a day that was pouring with rain throughout the entire race, which must have made it even more of a challenge. I could see by the look in his eyes that he was proud of his little sister. He ran it in 4:03 back in 1997 and is now running marathons in the 3:40s.

The few negatives were that the water stations and bridges were a little crowded, I was disappointment in myself for not spending a few moments with Tom's family, and at not seeing Pete and Sue at mile 17 and my parents at mile 26. I also wish that my brother, Richard, could have been there with us.

What a great ending to the year! I started the year with an ITB injury that had been an issue for almost a year. I got back into running mid-year and by September I had finally started to get back into the feel of things. I was thrilled to be able to run the Great North Run in England with my brother, Richard at the beginning of October. I posted a huge PR there and I felt like this could be a really good marathon for me. The ITB issue came back on my last long training run, but luckily it was not a factor at all for the race.

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support.

Now it's time to pull out the calendar and pick out my next marathon and ultra!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another great day for the Brits! Paula and Kate come through big in the 2008 ING New York City Marathon!

Paula after winning the race

Me in the park after a victory of my own!

Event Information:
Event: The ING New York City Marathon
Runner: Kathryn Stoker
Latest Results at 02:25:26 PM:
Location Time Pace/mile
5km 0:28:26 9:09
10km 0:56:17 9:03
15km 1:24:37 9:04
20km 1:53:44 9:09
Half-Marathon 2:00:09 9:09
25km 2:23:32 9:14
Mile 16 2:29:06 9:19
Mile 17 2:36:44 9:13
Mile 18 2:46:01 9:13
30km 2:52:05 9:13
Mile 19 2:55:29 9:14
Mile 20 3:05:29 9:16
Mile 21 3:15:20 9:18
35km 3:22:55 9:19
Mile 22 3:25:11 9:19
Mile 23 3:34:58 9:20
Mile 24 3:45:15 9:23
40km 3:53:24 9:23
Mile 25 3:54:44 9:23
Mile 26 4:03:56 9:22
Finish 4:05:48 9:22

What an amazing race! I am blown away by the entire experience. Running the New York marathon is absolutely amazing. I will have a full write up and will keep adding photos over the next few days.

First here are the basic facts. I finished in 4:05:48 at a 9:23 pace. This beats my prior PR by about 15 minutes!

Shawn and James at mile 17 - Poland Springs Hydration Station

Tom and James

Paula leading the elite women

Jay and Shawn

Barbara and James


Saturday in the City before the big race

Tom, James and I had the good fortune of being able to get a room at Club Quarters Midtown located on 45th street between 5th and 6th Avenue before they all sold out. This was a great location and pretty central to all that we had to do for the two days. I had come into the City on Friday to pick up my ING bus ticket at the Hilton and gone to the Expo to pick up my shirt, bib and pasta dinner tickets. By doing this I was able to bring stuff home that I did not need for the race. On Saturday morning we jumped on the train and headed for Grand Central. Once we got there we proceeded to a burger place for lunch and then checked into the hotel. We then headed down to the Javits Center for the expo. When we got to the expo I was amazed by how much stuff was gone. Most of the things that I had bought the day before were now sold out. However, there were also great sales on some of the items that were left so we all bought a few things. James was also excited about getting free samples of Gatorade so we kept going back to that booth for more. This was very good for me too to keep me hydrated also. I ended up staying at the expo until almost 5pm when they were starting to shut everything down. We headed back to the hotel for a while and then made our way up to Central Park for the pasta dinner. There was a huge line to get in, but it moved very quickly and we got to watch the fireworks while we stood in line. I must say that the pasta was delicious and we got to take a few boxes of Barilla pasta home with us. We then made the walk back down to the hotel, watched the end of Independence Day, and then called it a night. I can't say that I slept well, but it could have been much worse.

Tom and James at the train station on Saturday morning.

Kate and James at the train station

Tom in front of "The Perfect Pint"

Tom and James in Times Square

Marathon Man at the Expo

Tom writing on the board at the expo

James writing on the board at the expo

The finish line on Saturday night

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Marathon Packing list

Emmy posted my marathon packing list on her blog recently. I then got some feedback from Frank about the quantity of stuff that I felt the need to back for one race. I have decided to post the list on my blog and include some photos.

garmin watch
pace chart
cell phone
disposable camera
running shoes
socks (including xtra)
ponytail holder
long sleeved shirt - OLD
sweat pants - OLD
garbage bag/rain gear

H20 bottle
salt pills
gummy bears
ITB Strap
body glide
lambs wool

Bag for Post Race
long sleeved shirt
sweat pants
granola bar
chocolate milk

I have not included my running shoes, Garmin watch or drinks in the photos, but I think I have everything else. Here is a photo of everything.

This is the sweater shirt and sweat pants (underneath) to wear pre-race. I'll be wearing these in the morning and throwing them out before the race starts so they won't be taking up any room in my bag.

This is my running skirt, socks, gloves and such to wear during the race. I'll be wearing this stuff to run in so again it's not taking up any space in the bag.

Long sleeved shirt and pants for after the race. I also have a fleece to wear after. This stuff will be in the bag.

TP, tissues, ITB strap, ipod, road ID, disposable camera (for pre-race) and "Sarah" (for motivation). Only the camera will need to go back in the bag.

Neosporin, body glide, tylenol, lamb's wool, tape and chapstick - to take apply pre-race. These items will be packed in the bag once I've fixed up my feet. Or if I'm up early enough I can take care of my feet at the hotel and then leave most of this stuff at the hotel.

Gels, electrolytes, gummy bears, salt/tylenol pills for during the race. These will fit in the side pockets in the under shorts of my running skirt.